I’m one of those SUPER rare Florida residents who is ACTUALLY Florida-born. Born and raised!

Even with being here for 30+ years, there were some things I had NEVER done (crazy, right?!).

So, I made a bucket list 😉

And this year, we’ve crossed quite a few off the list.

#1 Manatee Viewing Center

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Located in Apollo Beach (about 30 minutes south of Tampa) at 6990 Dickman Road.

Open from November 1-April 15 (when it’s “cold” in Florida and the manatees flock to the power plant for the hot water run off).

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There are boardwalks out over the water for viewing. There’s also an indoor educational/ play area for the kids. They can crawl under “mangroves,” put together a manatee puzzle and look at manatee bones. It’s also a nice reprieve if it’s too hot out.

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There’s also a butterfly garden, gift shop and a small snack bar.

Bonus: It’s FREE!

#2 Weeki Wachi

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One word: Mermaids! Need I say more?

But seriously, how did my mom NOT take me here when I was younger????

There’s a mermaid show twice a day…

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A nature show…

And a River Boat trip… (all included with your admission)

The kids (and I) got to meet a real mermaid.

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There’s also Buccaneer Bay – a water park- located within Weeki Wachi. And also included in your admission. Admission is $13 per adult, $8 for children ages 6-12 and children under 5 are FREE!

#3 Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

I took the kids here with my dad recently and it was pretty cool! It’s a mostly Greek town so, naturally, we had to eat Greek food!

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It’s full of little shops and lot of boats and birds and photo opportunity spots!

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#4 Crystal River/ Kings Bay/ Homosassa to see the Manatees

In case you haven’t noticed, my kids (and maybe me a little bit) are kind of obsessed with manatees, dolphins and mermaids.

I’m pretty sure they just want to live in the ocean.

Good thing we live in Florida!

We recently took a camping trip to Crystal River to see the manatees. We rented a pontoon boat and went on the hunt for sea cows!

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SUCCESS!

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Are there any other Tampa Bay area/ Gulf Coast activities that you would add to the list? Comment below and I’ll check it out and maybe do a follow-up post!

Thanks for reading!